As the U.S. and others quickly moved to bomb Libya, I wondered why we just didn’t offer to “buy out” Qaddafi. Offer him a billion dollars and asylum and immunity from prosecution for war crimes (the sort of immunity our own leaders enjoy, de facto) if he would just get out.
If Qaddafi refuses the offer that no reasonable person could refuse, well, then, perhaps, there could be limited but escalating uses of force against him, with the offer remaining open.
This sort of deal would avoid the killing and maiming of soldiers and innocent civilians. It would also save hardworking taxpayer dollars. It would avoid all the other disorders and destruction that military action brings. It would foster a peaceful transition to a better government.
I’m not the first person to make such a suggestion. Here’s a link to a blog that discussed, in 2007, the idea of buying out Saddam Hussein.
So, why not play Let’s Make a Deal?
Some people would object, saying that we need to “punish” Qaddafi. My response is that we can’t punish everyone we would like to punish. “Punishing Qaddafi” means killing innocent people, including, of course, children. Who wants that?
So rather than hold our nose and make the “tough decision” to order airstrikes that will kill innocents, why not instead hold our nose and forego punishing Qaddafi? I’d rather see him walk free than see a little girl get her legs blown off.
Another objection is that this would “incentivize” other leaders to treat their people terribly, to win this “payday.” My response is that this is fatuous. The leader who embarks on a program of oppression risks being killed by his or her own people. And such a leader might not even get approached by U.S. officials if such a deal isn’t in the U.S. interest (read: the country has no oil). Moreover, the sad fact is that the U.S. already has a history of “incentivizing” despots … to repress their own people. Here, we’d be paying them not to.
Some of the objections would have the benefit of revealing the ugly nature of modern, U.S. warmaking. One would be that the various private, corporate contractors such as Halliburton and Lockheed Martin, who profit wildly from war, would not get their expected windfall (blood money). We would see their lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for think tank mouthpieces and the craven U.S. officials who are in their pockets try to squash any deal that would promote peaceful resolution.
We’d also see mainstream, corporate media pooh-pooh talk of such a buyout as “unrealistic” — because war is much more exciting. It brings in bigger audiences and advertising dollars.
But what’s more realistic? The belief that we can bomb despots out of their own countries – and without killing innocent people, without creating disorder, without losing our own troops, and without spending a fortune? Or the belief that sleazy tyrants such as Qaddafi have their price?